On Wednesday, Donald Trump became the first president in US history to be impeached twice, with the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives censuring him for “inciting insurrection” via last week’s violence in Washington, DC, which saw thousands of Trump supporters break into the Capitol as Congress moved to certify Joe Biden’s victory.
President Trump could be barred from running for president again even if the Senate fails to convict him using the US Constitution’s ‘insurrection’ clause, Democratic Representative and House Majority Whip James Clyburn has suggested.
“What [Trump] did last week was the worst thing any president of these United States has ever done. So he deserves to be impeached, and quite frankly, he should be convicted and forever barred from holding any office of honour in this country for the rest of his life,” Clyburn said, speaking to Fox News.
“There’s also another option here, resting in the 14th Amendment,” the lawmaker added, referring to the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits any person who had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or giving “aid or comfort” to US enemies from holding any public office.
Clyburn went on to accuse the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol last Wednesday of “fanning the flames of racism,” echoing claims made by President-elect Biden last week that the Capitol rioters were “a bunch of thugs, insurrectionists, white supremacists” and “anti-Semites.”
“It would be good to use the 14th Amendment to bar [Trump] from office,” Clyburn stressed.
GOP Dashes Dems’ Hopes for Senate Trial
Following Trump’s impeachment, Republican Senator Tom Cotton said that the Senate lacks the constitutional authority to hold an impeachment trial for Trump after he leaves office 20 January.
“The Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president. The Founders designed the impeachment process in a way to remove officeholders from public office – not an inquest against private citizens,” Cotton said.
Earlier Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to dash the Democrats’ hopes for convicting Trump, saying the new impeachment trial would not start until after the Senate returned from a recess January 19. “Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week,” McConnell said in a statement.
The House moved to impeach Trump 232 to 197 on Wednesday, with at least 10 Republicans breaking ranks with the president and their party to vote to censure him on “incitement of insurrection” charges.
The attempt to bar Trump from running for office again in 2024 has become a major priority for Democrats in the wake of November’s bitterly contested presidential election, which Trump and his supporters claim was marred by large-scale voter fraud. Last month, a The Hill-HarrisX poll found that a majority of US voters think it is “likely” that Trump would run again in 2024. If he did run again, Trump would be 78 years old, the same age as Biden is today.